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Courses Vector calculus and E&M physics as a engineering major?

  1. Aug 4, 2017 #1
    I am an engineering major at Los Angeles Pierce community college. I have been for the last years working 40 hours a week in order to sustain and put myself through community college. After I transfer, I don't plan on working. Now, each semester due to my work schedule and life happening, I can only take two classes. So far these two classes have consisted of a hard science or math class ( Calculus 1,2 or Physics 101, Chem 101 etc.), and a general education class ( music, english 101, 102, philosophy, etc.).
    Although it was a bit tough, I barely managed a balance in life with those classes and achieved a 3.9 GPA. However, I am done with the general Ed classes. Now that's a good thing but it puts me in a dilemma because I only have hard classes from now on. This semester the only classes that I can take are Calc 3 and E&M.

    Some of my fellow classmates swear that E&M is one of the hardest courses on campus and Calc 3 does not fall behind, and I believe them because I took Mechanics and calc 2 already. These courses required a lot of my time. So I guess what I am looking for is someone that has taking Calc 3 and E&M while working 40 hours a week . Has anyone here been able to and if you did how was your life/college/work balance? Or should I just take one class in the meantime that I transfer? or if you can give me and advice on what to do it woud be awesome?
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2017 #2


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    You need to clarify something a bit more here.

    Typically, a community college does NOT teach advanced undergraduate Mechanics and E&M courses. So when you said that you've taken Mechanics and now wondering if you should take E&M, are you referring to Intro Physics Mechanics and Intro Physics E&M?

    There is a large difference between Intro Physics E&M (at the level of, say, Halliday and Resnick), versus advanced undergraduate E&M (at the level of Griffith). This includes a significant difference in the amount of time and effort required. Until you can clarify that, it is difficult to make any kind of solid recommendation.

  4. Aug 4, 2017 #3
    Yes, well I thought it was not necessary to specify because, well as you said, community college only teaches intro Physics and mechanics. So yes, Intro courses is what I am talking about, not advanced undergraduate courses.
  5. Aug 4, 2017 #4


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    It is doable. I went back and looked at what I took, and I was taking 18 hours the same semester as taking those 2 classes. Statistics was the only other technical class that I took during that semester. I was not working at that time.

    What I found useful was to study in a group, maybe 4 or 5 students. We'd have "Calculus parties" at somebodies house and have pizza etc. (no alcohol).

    I went to www.piercecollege.edu and found the catalog, to see what it said about those courses. It shows 5 hours Lecture for the Math 263 (Calculus3) course. Is there any computer lab? We had a Maple computer lab, which I found helpful.... especially when you are trying to do some field and vector plots.

    That's my input.
  6. Aug 4, 2017 #5
    Thanks for the input. Unfortunately there is no lab for calc 3. The physics is also 5 hours lecture. Since they are taken concurrently, does one complement the other? What I'm thinking is that because I need the math from calc 3 for physics 102, this would reduce some study time since studying for one would mean also studying for the other. Is this the case?
  7. Aug 4, 2017 #6
    In my experience, no. At least where I went to school, most of the Calculus in Physics 2 was relatively simple. It usually consisted of integrating dx, which wasn't exactly very hard. Some of the 3D stuff with vectors and dot products and cross products does help with Physics 2, but there's also a lot you learn in Calculus 3 that you will not use in Physics 2.
  8. Aug 4, 2017 #7
    I was under the wrong impression then. I know our schools are different but I don't think, as far as those two classes go, that it would be different. The fact that I need a full time job for right now will stop me from taking these two classes. I have to admit I was really excited, but that is not justification for a stressful semester and probably some bad grades. I know for a fact that it would be doable with less work hours, perhaps even add more classes, but like I said for now I can't do that. Thank you so much for the info.
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